Our Chronicle

I wrote a large, pathos-laden speech before this report but then erased it. Such words are probably unnecessary here.
Bitterness, sadness, sense of injury–these feelings must be removed from posts. It seems that, over the last three and a half years, we got tired of it. And if our earlier stories were full of tragedy, they’ve since become a chronicle. A chronicle of war, of aid, of human fates. I’d like to change a lot in the surrounding us world, but all I can do is talk about tiny fragments of human lives.
These are our “workdays” which are difficult to tell in a novel way every time.
Because they’ve become a “routine”, which fills our days.
For example, the story of Marina and Alyona, two girls who live without their parents.
The older one works and feeds and younger who is a student. They’ve never seen their fathers, the mother is unfit and even the girls say “it’s better she never comes back.”
So here I’m looking at a photo with the older Marine and the aid we brought, and see a very thin girl. Tiny, fragile, and a stuff elephant with a raised trunk. For some reason I wanted to write about the pink elephant. Small, like Marine herself, on a sofa in an apartment where there’s almost no furniture. With a rug as backdrop. The whole internet makes fun of things like that. But the rug keeps the heat in…And decorates the utterly empty apartment.


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Surviving with Grandkids

“Our main food is bread. Flour is cheap here.”
That’s how Zhenya answered when asked what they eat.
It’s an inevitable question, because they earn only 2900 rubles for the whole family a month.
With two kids. With utilities, school supplies, and grandma’s type 2 diabetes and hypertension, in spite of which she’s raising the two grandkids. The mother vanished at the war’s start.
I wrote about this family before–click on the Timur and Elisey tag at the bottom of this post.

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May there be life!

–Why are they giving births? There’s a war on!
There’s been a war on there for over four years. And if our grandmothers and grandfathers weren’t giving births during the Great Patriotic War, then our population, which already suffered catastrophic losses due to the war and hunger, how would it have survived.
It’s impossible to continue to exist for years in hell without trying to LIVE. Giving birth to children is that very life.
I don’t know if I myself would have given birth had I been living in a village right in the line fo fire, like Zaitsevo, Kalinovo, Molodezhnoye. I don’t know. I think I would not, but I have no right to condemn those who did.
But Lugansk itself and many other LPR and DPR towns have not been hit in years. It’s a paradox–people on the outskirts are struggling to survive, but further back life goes on…
How are they surviving?
Here’s how–through clenched teeth. Many understand that it can continue for years. There is no possibility of leaving. So should they commit suicide? They start families, fall in love and yes, give birth, work, survive. And they raise remarkable children. Those who were born in ’14 have long learned to talk and now go to kindergartens to the joy of their parents. Those who were little now go to school. Those kids don’t know any other life, other than life without war.
We brought clothing for children during our March visit. Also food, diapers, and formula.

Masha N. Age 6 months.

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Elisey and Timur

This is Elisey. He has an 11-year-old brother, Timur.
Both live with their grandmother in Lugansk. Their mother ran off in ’14, when the war began. Disappeared and nobody knows where she is. Disappeared, and the boys live with the elderly Lyubov Mikhailovna who can’t even get any benefit payments for them. Their house is on the front lines. So far by miracle it wasn’t hit, though all the windows were broken, but their neighbors were not so lucky. All the horrors of war unfolded right before the eyes of children who were abandoned by their own mother. Elisey was tiny, and it’s hard to imagine how the retired grandmother coped.
LPR civil courts are still not operating, so she can’t obtain custody over the kids. They live off her pension which she supplements with her knittings, “but there are almost no buyers.”

Timur gets all the top grades, and also attends a music school.
He used to study English and drawing. But he stopped–the family has no money for transportation there.

Lyubov Mikhailovna is disabled herself. Type B diabetes. Hypertension going back years.
The family is in a difficult situation. The kids have to eat, they have high utility debts. One doesn’t want to moralize about the mother, though it’s hard not to.
I usually mention disappearing fathers. But there are also many mothers who abandoned own kids, left them with grandparents. And have forgotten them. Live somewhere far away and think everything is fine, the kids are with the grandmother, after all. That the grandmother may be disabled, elderly, that the kids have problems–that doesn’t cross their mind.
To be honest, I’ve seen many such stories even in Moscow. Which has many abandoned kids who don’t even think about their parents…One can always find a justification, it’s not hard to delude oneself.
Because it’s not about the war, right?
But at the same time it is.
The mother would have ran off regardless of the bombings. If the mother was not afraid to leave the kids under the threat of artillery shells, she’s totally indifferent to them. But the situation in the family would have been different if it weren’t for the war. The grandmother would have had the ability to deprive the mother of parental rights. She could have filed for and obtained benefits. But officially the mother is still the custodian. That’s what the documents say…
It’s all very, very complicated…
Yesterday I watched a program on NTO with lots of analysts which among other things talked about the Donbass conflict. They spoke general and largely correct things. But a lot of what they said sounded utterly wild, no matter how you approach it, and I approach it mainly from the perspective of treatment of human beings.
They are the spare change of big politics.
And yet there are tens of thousands of people there. All with their own different fates.
All of them have fallen under the steamroller of war.
How I wanted, at that moment, to drag all of these strange speakers, including the anchors, to the families whom we help.
How I wanted to take them to every last apartment and shattered house which we visit.
So that they would listen, they would listen.
Maybe then they’d talk about people, not about numbers and bio-units.

Our humanitarian aid. Thanks to all who participate!
If you want to help  Lyubov Mikhailovna’s family, please label contributions “Timur and Elisey”.

If you want to help the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com.

Please label contributions meant for this family “Timur and Elisey”.

Sofiya and Nastya

Sofiya and Nastya are sisters and one can say with certainty they are children of war. Nastya was born in the summer of 2013, while Sofiya in October 2014, at the height of fighting in Lugansk. They have known no life other than war. The family lost its home and now lives in a dorm. The girls, thank God, have a family–they have loving parents, but both are de-facto disabled.


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A single piece of shrapnel

This is Natasha and her grandmother. They live alone because on August 3 of the bloody 2014 their garden was hit by a shell. The house survived though the blast shattered all the windows, but a single piece of shrapnel flew in. Just a single piece of shrapnel. That was enough to kill Natasha’s mom right in front of her. The shrapnel pierced her head.
Natasha did not say anything for a week, and it was a miracle she resumed talking later. She stuttered for a year. Her grandma really aged in that instant. She’s only 70, and at the time, 3 years ago, she looked different.


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Useful after all!

–I have a DVD player and a huge bag of dvds with cartoons. It’s a pity to throw them out–that collection took a long time to assemble! But now it’s all on the internet…Perhaps someone on the Donbass might find a use for it?
So I kept thinking.
–Bring it along!
And now all these dvds, the player, and all manner of arts and crafts supplies are going to Lugansk with us. Anya, you had doubts?! You’re my precious!)
They proved useful after all, very much so!)))

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These kids are special

A young father stands by the doorway. He’s pacing in the snow, he’s not dressed for the outside, jumps up and down. Sees our car, waves at us.
–We’ve been waiting for you since early morning. Got very nervous.
He speaks in plural, gets frantic–he’s trying to shake our hands, runs ahead of us, then lets us pass.
–Vika, they’re here!
We enter the apartment, and there’s an 11 year old girl with her mom, trying to avert her gaze. She saw us, crossed her fingers, and turned away.
Mom is holding her by the hand, hugs her, but the girl is still afraid, though she’s no longer looking away.
Then everything was like in a fog. The girl haltingly reads poems about frost and wind.
She’s very shy, though it’s clear she’s trying very hard. Everyone is helping her, the mom, and dad, Grandfather Frost and I. Then we hugged her, and she was speechless.
As we’re leaving the mother grabs us by the hand–her eyes are full of tears.

Survivors of Captivity

Our friends. That’s what we call them–“survivors of captivity.”
Things are improving. The whole family has passports, and not without our help. I’m glad this blog contains not only sad stories but also positive ones, when one has something to smile about or be proud of. I’m glad you and us were to help this family.
All the documents, and all of their lives, remained over there, in Ukraine. Where both husband and wife have arrest warrants for “separatism.” There is no way back for them. Everything–their property and belongings, elderly parents, relatives, is back there. But they don’t have any contact with anyone anymore, “so that nobody is placed in danger.”
They went through a grinder. Vitaliy spent a long time in captivity in Ukraine where he had all of his teeth knocked out and was badly injured. Natasha and her son was in hiding until they managed to escape into LPR where they finally were able to relax. Vitaliy was in the militia from the start. Natasha helped organized the referendum in Rubezhnoye. It’s a miracle they were able to hide. They went from apartment to apartment for months, unable to even go out to shop…
Now they live in a Lugansk dorm. Their son has improved, the problem was in poor nutrition of the whole family. He’s had several hunger-induced blackouts, nervous system issues, and serious headaches.

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Seryozha and Diana

Aaa! It’s you, my dearest! Come on in!
We barely entered and I was already being hugged and suffocated. The apartment is piled high with boxes, clothes, with the mysteriously smiling Diana among them, as well as the camera-avoiding Seryozha.
We didn’t know where to look. Elena Fyodorovna with her two grandkids, after February of ’15 was left without a home. Their stairwell in the apartment block on Makushkin St. in Pervomaysk was hit by a shell and collapsed. At that time they were in Russia. On July 28, 2014, Seryozha, Elena Fyodorovna’s grandson, was wounded and since then has been living with a shell fragment in his head. He was taken to Russia for treatment, which is when that one shell deprived them of everything they owned. Since then they’ve been living in an apartment temporarily provided by Olga Ishchenko, at that time the acting mayor of Pervomaysk.
The house was rebuilt last summer but we haven’t seen each other since that time and didn’t know where to find them. It turned out they were still in the old apartment, getting ready to move.
It’s been a year, and Seryozha is 14, but it seems he hasn’t changed at all. Still the same short, skinny kid with incredibly sad eyes. Hasn’t grown up at all…

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